Whenever I force myself to do something necessary but unpleasant or stressful, I try to reward myself. It’s an attempt at self-directed operant conditioning. When we finish filing our taxes, we generally go out for a meal afterwards. When I go to the dentist, I might ironically reward myself with a Krispy Kreme doughnut.
Which brings me to today. In a little while I’m heading to the dentist for gum augmentation surgery. They’ll be cutting some slices of gum tissue from the roof of my mouth and grafting them to the gums on my lower jaw. Everyone in my family has bad gum recession there, but hopefully if I get it sorted now I’ll be able to keep a full set of teeth for the rest of my life, as they’re otherwise pretty healthy. (Except robotooth, but that’s another story.)
The problem is, after the surgery is over I’m going to have to use disgusting mouthwash for a week. It coats the inside of your mouth with antibacterial chemicals, which is good, but has the side effect that you can’t taste anything except the vaguely plastic taste of the mouthwash itself.
So, what trivial but important reward can I give myself? The normal edible rewards aren’t going to work.
I’m going to be heavily sedated for the procedure itself, so perhaps spending a few hours in my happy place is reward enough?